"It is uncertain when human life begins."

February 7, 2013 - 5:58pm
Tags: 

It is uncertain when human life begins; that’s a religious question that cannot be answered by science.

An article printed and distributed by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) describes as “anti-choice” the position that “human life begins at conception.” It says the prochoice position is, “Personhood at conception is a religious belief, not a provable biological fact.”1

A. If there is uncertainty about when human life begins, the benefit of the doubt should go to preserving life.

B. Medical textbooks and scientific reference works consistently agree that human life beings at conception.

C. Some of the world’s most prominent scientists and physicians testified to a U.S. Senate committee that human life begins at conception.

D. Many other prominent scientists and physicians have likewise affirmed with certainty that human life beings at conception.

A. If there is uncertainty about when human life begins, the benefit of the doubt should go to preserving life.

Suppose there is uncertainty about when human life begins. If a hunter is uncertain whether a movement in the brush is caused by a person, does his uncertainty lead him to fire or not to fire? If you’re driving at night and you think the dark figure ahead on the road may be a child, but it may just be the shadow of a tree, do you drive into it or do you put on the brakes? If we find someone who may be dead or alive, but we’re not sure, what is the best policy? To assume he is alive and try to save him, or to assume he is dead and walk away?

Shouldn’t we give the benefit of doubt to life? Otherwise we are saying, “This may or may not be a child, therefore it’s all right to destroy it.”

B. Medical textbooks and scientific reference works consistently agree that human life beings at conception.

Many people have been told that there is no medical or scientific consensus as to when human life begins. This is simply untrue. Among those scientists who have no vested interests in the abortion issue, there is an overwhelming consensus that human life begins at conception. (Conception is the moment when the egg is fertilized by the sperm, bringing into existence the zygote, which is a genetically distinct individual.)

Dr. Bradley M. Patten’s textbook, Human Embryology, states, “It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual.” 2

Dr. Keith L. Moore’s text on embryology, referring to the single-cell zygote, says, “The cell results from fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm and is the beginning of a human being.”3 He also states, “Each of us started life as a cell called a zygote.” 4

Dr. Louis Fridhanler of Biology of Gestation and doctors E.L. Potter and J.M. Craig of Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant all write similarly in their textbooks.

These sources confidently affirm, with no hint of uncertainty, that life begins at conception. They state not a theory or hypothesis and certainly not a religious belief—every one is a secular source. Their conclusion is squarely based on the scientific and medical facts.

C. Some of the world’s most prominent scientists and physicians testified to a U.S. Senate committee that human life begins at conception.

In 1981, a United States Senate Judiciary Subcommittee invited experts to testify on the question of when life begins. All of the quotes from the following experts come directly from the official government record of their testimony. 10

Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of pediatrics and obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated:

“I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception…I submit that human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood and that any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life… I am no more prepare to say that these early stages [of development in the womb] represent an incomplete human being than I would be to say that the child prior to the dramatic effects of puberty…is not a human being. This is human life at every stage…”

See also the testimony of Dr. Jerome LeJeune from the University of Descartes in Paris, Professor Hymie Gordon of the Mayo Clinic, Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth of Harvard University, and Dr. Watson A. Bowes of the University of Colorado Medical School.

A prominent physician points out that at these Senate hearings, “Pro-abortionists, though invited to do so, failed to produce even a single expert witness who would specifically testify that life begins at any point other than conception or implantation. Only one witness said no once can tell when life begins.” 11

D. Many other prominent scientists and physicians have likewise affirmed with certainty that human life begins at conception.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, internationally known obstetrician and gynecologist, was a cofounder of what is now the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He owned and operated what was at the time the largest abortion clinic in the western hemisphere. He was directly involved in over sixty thousand abortions.

 Dr. Nathanson’s study of developments in the science of fetology and his use of ultrasound to observe the unborn child in the womb led him to the conclusion that he had made a horrible mistake. Resigning from his lucrative position, Nathanson wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that he was deeply troubled by his “increasing certainty that I had in fact presided over 60,000 deaths.”13

In his film, “The Silent Scream,” Nathanson later stated, “Modern technologies have convinced us that beyond question the unborn child is simply another human being, another member of the human community, indistinguishable in every way from any of us.” Dr. Nathanson wrote Aborting America to inform the public of the realities behind the abortion rights movement of which he had been a primary leader. 14 At the time Dr. Nathanson was an atheist. His conclusions were not even remotely religious, but squarely based on the biological facts.

The First International Symposium on Abortion came to the following conclusion:

“The changes occurring between implantation, a six-week embryo, a six-month fetus, a one-week-old child, or a mature adult are merely stages of development and maturation. The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of sperm and egg, or at least the blastocyst stage, and the birth of the infant at which point we could say that this was not a human life.”16

The Official Senate report on Senate Bill 158, the “Human Life Bill,” summarized the issue this way:

“Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of life of a human being—a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings. 17

From “Prolife answers to prochoice arguments” by Randy Alcorn. P.39-43

Sources can be seen in the book or are available upon request.

Another simple series of questions to show that human life begins at conception could be:

  1. If it is growing, isn’t it alive?
  2. If it has human parents, isn’t it human?
  3. If it is human, doesn’t it deserve to be valued like you and I?